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5 reasons why you have to stay at a Bali airbnb

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

My travel styles have been known to hit both ends of the spectrum. When I was in full time employment, my holidays were limited to 25 days a year and consequently, I spent all of my money on them, they were pretty indulgent. Now that I no longer have a limit - or a stable income - and I have discovered a whole new way of traveling; my trips are much longer and cost much less.

As such, I'd never had any inkling to use Air bnb. Unlike your typical millennial, I guess I kind of just found the whole thing a bit mediocre, but that all changed when I switched the location of my searches to Bali, Indonesia and I realised that I could get my over indulgence back at a price I could afford!

I had my first, and second Airbnb experience this summer and while I still have absolutely no interest to use the service anywhere else, I would 100% recommend using it if you plan to visit Bali. Here are 5 reasons why:

Value For Money

Considering just how nice these places are, you'd be surprised at how much they cost. Air bnb prices per property, not per person and between us, our budget was £50. I was there with just one friend which obviously made it £25 per night each but the villa actually slept 4 making it ridiculously cheap per head. It's pretty standard to pay £20 per night for a nice hostel in Bali so this was incredible value for money and we were both very pleased with ourselves.

Facilities

People rent these places out to live in, not just to holiday in and so they have all the everyday facilities you'd need which is not something you often find with a hotel or a hostel. As Schofields points out, having things like an oven and a washing machine makes life much easier for guests and whilst Luke took advantage of the kitchen, if you know me, you'll know full well that I went out to eat at any and every opportunity.

The private pools however, are something I took full advantage of and are where I spent most of my time.

Low Cost Luxe

The first time I went to Bali a few years back, I spent an embarrassing amount of money. I don't regret it because I stayed at the most incredible villas, but as I've become much more aware of life without a travel agent, I've realised that I could have very easily done it myself for a fraction of the price. The villas that I sourced and booked myself through Air BnB were just as good, if not better.

Privacy

Hostels have their benefits and for me, the fact that there are people around all the time is something I like when I'm traveling alone; but privacy is not their strong point.

I loved being able to unpack, to leave things on the floor, to make as much mess as I wanted and know that everything was going to be just where I left it when I got back. As well as privacy from the rest of the world, having a double bed and a room all to myself, plus my own outside en suite was awesome.

Unique Accommodation

A private pool and outdoor bathrooms were all I was after and Luke just wanted modern so our villas were smart and clean cut with a Balinese charm.

Some of them though, were so unique - Air bnb is an amazing place to find something different! Things like tree houses and little huts were a norm among the listings so I'd love to stay somewhere really quirky next time!


For my first experience though, it was very good! I'm glad I did it with a friend but I would be confident to use the service solo now I've seen how it works. Everything looked as the photos showed and our hosts were great when we couldn't find the address and very helpful when Luke forgot all his electronics after we left.

So if like me, you've never used air bnb before, hopefully this'll convince you to give it a go on your next trip! I can't wait to do it again. 

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re-adjusting to reality

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

My Australian visa ran out in July and coming home was fun at first; I had weddings to go to, a family holiday to look forward to and lots of people to catch up with - plus the British summer had improved majorly since I left. But after a couple of months, the weather turned grey, reality of it all being over set in and these last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. No one ever talks about what it's like to come home; I am at a very odd stage of coming to terms with my new/old life.

So, as you might have noticed, the re-adjusting wasn't going too well and I decided to go back to Thailand. I should probably start working towards a future in the UK but I just wanted a couple of weeks to debrief first; to get my thoughts together and to start thinking about what I'm going to do when I get home. So here's my plan..
Wearing BMTH Band tee and sparkly wide leg trousers

Driving

I never bothered to drive much when I was at home but in Australia, I learned what it was like to have the freedom of my own transport and it's not something I want to give up. I don't need a car full time since I'd like to go back to work in London but I will be looking at the best temporary car insurance I can find so I have the option. 


Get Back To Blogging

Before I left in 2017, my blog was going from strength to strength. I was being invited on one press trip after another and in between those, I took days at home to sit down and concentrate on writing all about them. I had a routine and a bit more discipline in my life at that point but as soon as I left to go backpacking, that all went out of the window.

I've had three awesome trips since coming home this summer, plus the past three years of memories whizzing around in my head and I think I'm finally back in the mindset to start writing again!


Get Healthy 

I caught a horrible cold last month and it honestly knocked me out for weeks. Then I went away; although I've managed to squeeze in one workout whilst in Thailand so I'm looking forward to getting back to it at home - I think it'll probably also help with the keeping my mind busy as well which is something else I really need to focus on because as you can imagine with the boredom of unemployment, my head had been a bit of a mess. 

Talking of which, I was recently sent a bottle of 5% CBD oil from Mistatera and it seems to really help so that's something I think I will keep going with. I've never even so much as smoked a joint so I was a little bit scared at first but after doing a little research I decided to give it a go. The CBD resin is dissolved in coconut oil and just one drop a day, under the tongue where it can easily soak into your blood stream seems to have calmed my racing mind. I wont lie, I'm an over thinker (that's why it took my 3 weeks to decide to give it a go) and whilst a few things have been driving me crazy over the last few weeks, when I take the oil, I still over think but there isn't a panic about the outcome, just calm, rational thoughts. 


Job Hunt

So I do actually have a cute little part time job which I really enjoy but I need something proper, something to fill the my time and something that I need to use my brain for. 


Have Fun

I guess I kind of forgot that it is possible to have fun at home too - I just need to make a bit more of an effort. As much as I just want to stay in bed and watch Netflix with Matt when it's cold, I've been making a conscious effort to try and plan fun things to do together at the weekend so I don't feel sad when Monday rolls around and I've spent all weekend in bed.

 

I've got a similar thing with my friends. Coming home is weird; everyone is married, engaged or buying a house, plus Georgia is moving countries so I think I need to work on getting to know my friends again as well.

Make Plans 

This is a bit of a weird one because I hate making solid plans for the future but I know that when I don't have anything to look forward to, I get really sad; and apparently impulsive - which I why am now writing this post from a hammock in Thailand. 

So without booking anything, I'm starting to think about where and when I want to go next. 

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Spontaneity

Thursday, 7 November 2019

How am I feeling? My heart is racing. I'm excited, nervous and a little bit sad all at the same time. I've just got my flight confirmation; I leave in two days.

I got back from my last trip just over a month ago and I have been going stir crazy with no trips to look forward to and no job to fill my time. All I've been doing is thinking about the adventures of the past three years; the ups, the downs, the people I met, the places I lived and it has in all honesty been driving me crazy. I need something new to think about. 

I've had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I want to have some fun so I'm going back to Thailand. Only for two weeks mind, but hopefully I'll be in a better frame of mind to restart my life in England for real when I get back.

Time to get packing!

How to stay fit whilst traveling

Thursday, 31 October 2019

You leave your eating routine and normal food behind and are thrown into something totally unfamiliar in every way when you go travelling. In Thailand and Vietnam especially, the streets are filled with the noises and smells of freshly cooked food and I just couldn't resist it.

Although to counteract that, you're no longer sat at a desk 9 hours a day. You've got to lug your backpack around and explore your new surroundings in the blistering heat so your weight and wellbeing could go either way.

I however took a carry on case - so there was no lugging to be done (tactical) plus I'm not a big nature lover so there wasn't much intensity to my exploring. As such, it wasn't exactly a surprise that  I put on over a stone in three months; food was such a huge part of my experience that it was inevitable. 
Once I realised what was happening, I decided to take a little bit more care of my body whilst I was out having fun. Here are some simple ways that I kept myself healthy:

Cycling 

I wasn't a confident cyclist when I was in in Asia, but 8 months of Uber eats in Australia changed that. My bike was my life when I lived in Surfers Paradise, not only earning me money but giving me freedom as well as keeping me fit. I fell in love with cycling there and aspire to be like these incredible people and continue my new hobby for years to come.

I will always regret not taking a cycle tour in Hoi An because I was scared so I'd love to go back and do that one day now.

Gym

Surprisingly enough, I started my gym habit whilst I was in Vietnam. I was waiting for my NZ visa to come through and had exhausted everything else so I decided to go to the gym for entertainment. It cost me £3 per session and I actually felt great when I left so I popped in every time I was bored after that and have been going ever since.

Walking

Arriving somewhere totally foreign can be very overwhelming but I always enjoy exploring a new city by foot. With a local SIM in my phone, the quickest way to get to know my new surrounding was put in the location of what I wanted to get to and walk there. I love being able to stop off to look at things on the way.
 
Fruit

Being abroad really made me realise how terrible the fruit is back home in the UK so as well as stuffing my face with noodles and ice cream, I took full advantage of all the delicious fruit on offer too.  The street vendors will slice it up making it super easy to eat on the go. I usually go for mango or pineapple.

Resistance Bands 

When I got home, I ordered a few resistant bands (just on ebay) which I then put in my backpack and took with me when I left again. If I went to the gym, I would always take them with but the good thing about resistance bands is that they can be used anywhere. I would often use them at home when I couldn't be bothered to get dressed properly and go out.

Adding these simple things, didn't take up much time but always made me feel much better whilst I was abroad. So much so that I have brought my new habits home with me and try to practice them as often as possible!

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Does backpacking cost alot?

Monday, 28 October 2019

Summer in London is well and truly over and these recent miserable days have seen me reminiscing on happier, sunnier memories. I have been telling anyone and everyone who will listen that whether it's going back to my favourite parts of Asia or getting myself combo Orlando tickets and doing Disney solo I am ready for another adventure; although every time I mention going away again, I get questioned on how I'm going to afford it.

Fact of the matter is, travel is a priority for me and honestly, backpacking in Southeast Asia really doesn't cost much as all, in fact, once you've got flights out of the way, having fun on holiday in Thailand is much cheaper than living day to day in London. 

I spent 3 months travelling around southeast Asia from September - December 2017 and spent a grand total of £2300. I didn't set myself a budget - I bought, did and ate everything I wanted to do and minus return flights from London that worked out to around £23 a day for absolutely everything.
 The main ways I kept my spending low was by staying in hostels, eating street food and travelling on ground rather than by air where I could - but even if I had endless money to spend, I would have done exactly the same because these three things were an integral part of my backpacking experience. 

Accommodation

Whilst I did stay in all sorts of places from serviced apartments in the city center to cute little huts on the beach, hostels were always the cheapest options. These usually cost between £3 - £8 per night and sometimes they even included things like breakfast or free drinks at the bar. 

Once you know what you are looking for, getting your choice of hostel right is pretty easy. If you are going by price alone, you can get hostels for as little as £2 per night but the most important thing for me was how social a place was. More often than not, the party hostels cost a bit more than the quieter ones but for me, it was always worth the extra £2/£3 per night.

I would keep the prices to a minimum though by booking the cheapest rooms; this usually meant sharing with the most people but in all honesty, they were usually the most fun.

Food

I definitely ate more than the average person I met whilst backpacking and I took any and every opportunity to eat so this was where a big chunk of my money went.

That being said, it didn't really cost me that much because I would always eat from street vendors as this was cheaper than western food and cheaper still than local restaurants. Not only that but the food was always freshly cooked in front of me and it made me feel most immersed in the culture.

It was different on day trips but on an average day at the hostel, eating was my main activity. I'd usually head out for a morning smoothie. A couple of hours later I'd be on the hunt for some local food and something sweet to eat after that - fresh mango, milk tea, ice cream ect. Then again a few hours later for dinner, and then again on the way home after a night out, usually spending £1/£2 per trip.

Activity

When it came to activities and adventures, there were big variations.

In Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Mihn City, I spent over 3 weeks in each city so by the end, I spent most of my time hanging out at the malls, getting to know the area or just staying in playing cards at the hostel, this was mostly free.

In Chaing Mai and Langkawi, I visited waterfalls, wandered around local markets or explored the temples close to where I was staying. This was a little bit more adventurous but still mostly free.

In Penang and Yogyakarta, we worked out how to get to where we wanted to go via public transport. It took a while but cost us pennies.

In Ubud and Phuket, a group of us would hire a driver for the day and visit a whole bunch of different attractions, stopping off for lunch in the middle. Split between 3 or 4 people, this would costs less than £7/£8 each
The most expensive outings were the ones that I was doing alone; or the event type ones like going to see Malaysia's last F1 race - we had to buy tickets and then work out how to get there and back since it wasn't just a tourist experience.
 
To visit Borobodur temple for example, I found Java very hard to navigate so I decided to just pay for the full service so I didn't have to think about the logistics. Again, the white temple in Chaing Rai was just too far away from where I was staying so I had to book a tour.

Full on day trips cost never really cost more than £20 and these usually included everything you'd need from transport to entrance fees and lunch as well.

Internal Travel

Flying is usually the quickest and simplest way to get from one country to another but it is always the most expensive. Sometimes though, it was the only option so I made sure that I traveled with a cabin size approved case and this saved me loads. Internal flights could costs as little as £18 although adding hold luggage on top would then cost more than the flight itself on top.
 My favourite way to travel from place to place was by bus - although no one ever agreed with me on this, it was just what I enjoyed doing - most people preferred to take a night bus which saved then on accommodation for that night but I didn't feel safe doing this on my own. They left from the city center rather than an airport miles away from anything and meant a whole day to myself, armed with a bag of snacks and my headphones. I'd sit and watch the world go by between naps and toilet breaks. Buses like this would usually cost £5-£8.

What else did I spend money on?

SIM Cards

One thing I was never without when I was traveling was a local SIM card. These varied in price but were always very cheap compared to back home. In Malaysia, it cost me something like £4 and in Thailand it was more like £15, both for unlimited data. Data meant I could use maps, Uber, whatever I needed and this made me feel much safer than otherwise. 
 
Medical 

I did end up heading to the doctors a few times and this was probably the thing I spent most on at one time. It would only cost between £20-£30 each visit but obviously it was worth it, both times I left with a load of medicine to fix everything. Had I bought more expensive insurance, I could have claimed it back but with a £75 excess it was totally pointless.  

Clothes 

Buying clothes is not something I was planning to do but I didn't pack enough so I had to in the end. Nothing that I picked up cost more than £3/£4 because I liked to barter. 
This trip changed my life and wherever it is you want to visit, I would recommend solo travel to everyone. This trip is forever on my mind - I'd love to go back and do it all over again; but it also makes me think about all the other places I'd love to visit solo.

Since food is obviously such an important thing for me,  Japan, Mexico and America are high up on my list. As mentioned earlier, Disney would be awesome; I can imagine it might cost a little more but that idea no longer scares me. Similarly with my backpacking trip, if I prioritise what I'm spending on, plan properly and do things like get my tickets before, traveling to Orlando and exploring the theme parks doesn’t have to cost a lot.

I used to want luxury everything and of course you do need some money to travel but what this trip has taught me is that it really doesn't need to cost the world to be enjoyable; there's more to life than fancy hotels and expensive restaurants.

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